what to do about ants where i am about to place raised beds...

bostonrookie(5)July 2, 2013


I just moved into a new house that had a 40' x 40' vegetable garden that was left untended for 6 years or so. I was able to save a plot of asparagus and a good number of raspberry bushes and I am planning to put raised beds in a 24'x34' that I have cleared.

As I was clearing the area I discovered a few ant colonies that looked pretty large. Various types of ants.. fun to watch them move their eggs back underground as I removed rocks and landscape fabric... but do they belong in my garden?

My question is what, if anything, should I do about them? Is it safe to spray them if I am going to be placing 12" of soil above where I spray? What about the colonies that fall where I will be placing pathways, etc.

Any advice is greatly welcome. I am new at this and want to make sure that I am starting out on a good foundation.

The Rookie

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Generally ants are no problem in the garden. They are basically garden neutrals unless they are fire ants. But if there are some really large colonies/nests then you may want to dig them up so they scatter or move them.

If you feel you need to kill them then sprays won't do it as you have to saturate the hive deep down to get the queen. Many times nests are several feet deep. You have to use bait traps to get the ants to take it down into the nest.

Some claim pouring boiling water on the nest will do it but I can't attest to that personally. Some also suggest that keeping the area well saturated with water for several days will force them to move.

I'd suggest some Google research on "how to destroy ant nest".


    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 12:04PM
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Thanks! Think I have a handle on the problem! Beds are built now and should be placing and filling them soon.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 12:51AM
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Thanks! Think I have a handle on the problem! Beds are built now and should be placing and filling them soon.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 12:52AM
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I am having problems with ants in my raised beds and in my patio (where I have several container plants/veg). At first, i just left them alone as they didnt seem to harm my plants. Then I saw them eating through the stems of my choi sim, and also a cauliflower seedling (they like brassicas??). At the same time, i noticed they were starting to farm aphids on my camomile, my sunflowers, and some of my herbs. And I got mad - very mad!

I tried using cinnamon, using chilli powder, using bicarbonate of soda (all solutions I googled)... no use. Not even a dent in the population. Next, I bought DE and spread them all along their paths. No difference. In the end, I harvested all the choi sim and poured jugs of boiling water on them and where they congregated (be very careful of hurting the surrounding veg though!). I am happy to say that got rid of most of them :) I do this whenever they start damaging my veg too badly now. Cheap, easy and organic!I also have a couple of ant baits around the patio. This also works well for me.

Its not possible to get rid of them completely and I can tolerate their presence fine if they dont eat and damage my plants too much.

As Dave said, most of the time, ants dont really do much harm. I hope yours are not like mine!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 6:00AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

FYI, you can usually get fire ants to move on if you disturb their nest frequently. You can do this with a strong stick. Just stick it in and stir. But, keep yourself at a safe distance, throw the stick away and run once they come pouring out. Doing this daily will usually cause them to abandon their place in about a week.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2013 at 4:51PM
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